The 2011 Walker Loyalty Report for Information Technology reveals that customer loyalty has decreased from 54% in 2008 to 43% in 2011. The findings are based on nearly 2000 brand level evaluations of products by 21 IT companies.
Customer loyalty may depend upon many aspects, but there is no denying of the fact that it is one of the main factors. It seems natural that customer loyalty would follow good customer service. According to an oft cited study, 68% of customers tend to change their service providers due to a poor customer service. This goes on to suggest that it is important for the IT industry to improve their customer service in order to retain their customers.
What Can IT Managers Do?
IT customer service representatives, who work within a company to service internal clients, or externally to meet the needs of company’s customers, face complex and challenging obstacles. IT managers need to have a viable plan to successfully train their customer services representatives to face these challenges. A well designed training program can cater to the needs of geographically spread workforces such as customer service representatives (CSRs).
How Can it Be Done?
Here are some tips on what can be part of a viable strategy for training customer service personnel.
Analyze Customer Types
Most of the IT companies have globally distributed clients in various sectors. Therefore, to cater to the needs of clients who are geographically distributed, training of customer service representatives should also vary according to the cultures and specific needs of the clients.
CSRs may interact with the clients by different modes such as phone, face to face, emails, etc. The training program needs to prepare representatives based on their mode of interaction. Basic communication etiquette, speaking skills and handling difficult customer situations need to be an integral part of the curriculum.
Train via Stories
A CSR can never afford to irritate his customer. Microsoft’s Raymond Chen talks about a situation where a customer complains that the keyboard isn’t working. In reality, the key board may not be working as it has not been plugged into the power point. However, if the representative asks customer to directly check whether the key board has been plugged into the power socket, it may be deemed as an insult to the customer. On the contrary, CSR can respond to the customer by saying, “Okay, sometimes the connection may get a bit dusty resulting in the connection getting weak. Could you please unplug the connector, blow into it to get the dust out, then plug it back in.” When the customer checks it, he is likely to find that either the cord has not been plugged or has been plugged in wrongly. He does the needful and replies, “Um, yeah, it is fixed, thanks.” Providing stories such as these during training will essentially help the representatives to apply the knowledge to actual situations.
Fit the Training Design According to Your Customer Needs
Place yourself in the role of your customer, understand his needs. Simultaneously identify your employee skills and accordingly make a proper design of your training. Information technology is about providing solutions to customers and customer service personnel need to be trained to provide the same. They need to anticipate the needs and expectations of customers and be prepared to resolve or address issues quickly and efficiently with minimum inconvenience. Training needs to reflect this thought process.
Implement Ongoing Training
Training should be given on a regular basis and it should be a part of regular business operations.
For new comers, it is important to inform them of company vision, mission, goals, and particular job responsibilities as they represent the organization and need to project its correct image. A continuous training will update them with new skills, knowledge, and technology in keeping with changing business needs and demands.
It would be difficult for the companies to have satisfied customers, if its employees are not trained effectively as they may tend to commit more mistakes and lose valuable repeat business and references from existing customers. In order to retain customers, enough time and resources need to be allocated for continuous and effective training.